The End of a Relationship: What Went Wrong?
At the end of your relationship it’s natural to spend some time reflecting on how things went wrong and who was to blame for its failure. How people react to the end of a relationship depends on the circumstances, but there are two main ways in which a relationship can come to an end: through a slow, torturous death or a sudden shock or traumatic event that ends it.
A Slow Death or Sudden Event?In the vast majority of cases, most relationships die a slow death through a number of factors: lack of communication, stress, boredom and not having the same dreams and aspirations. Quite often, these problems arise as a result of the person’s inability to cope with their existing stresses, either within a relationship or outside it. Examples are having an affair, becoming depressed, behaving recklessly or abusively, or having addictions to drugs or alcohol. In other cases, it can be a sudden event that changes things, such as the loss of a job, financial ruin or the death of a family member.
Coping StrategiesSometimes, couples will stay together while being emotionally detached from one another. While this enables each partner to cope, they are harming the relationship and contributing to the slow death of their union. If the coping mechanisms that are adopted are completely ineffective, either one of two things happens: the person seeks help from elsewhere to be able to cope, or they break off the relationship.
Often when a relationship gets to breaking point, it is because both parties have got to the stage where they are so far apart that they cannot make the same observations about their relationship to find some common ground. As a result, each party blames the other and is unable to ‘own’ their share of the problems.
Moving OnOnce a relationship ends, it is important to look at your own behaviour, as well as that of the other person. This will enable you to learn from your mistakes and examine how your coping strategies (or lack of them) harmed or helped your relationship. If you notice that there are recurring problems in each of your relationships, but you have no idea how to do things differently, it may be time to seek assistance. Although counselling may seem like a drastic measure, it can be extremely effective in identifying your own issues and helping you to move on for the future.
Whatever you decide, you should ensure that you don’t beat yourself up about the fact that your relationship is over. This can be extremely harmful and can lead to a prolonged loss of self-confidence as well as anxiety and depression. While you were part of a relationship, you are more than the sum total of that relationship and are still a whole, important and unique human being. When a relationship ends, you will inevitably grieve for it but should also ensure that you are kind to yourself while learning from the lessons of the past.
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